By Eric MaCarthy
FOR THE SOU’WESTER
O’LEARY, PEI — The opening date of Prince Edward Island’s fall lobster fishery could be the subject of a special meeting in about a month’s time.
Prince County Fishermen’s Association (PCFA) president, Lee Knox, told members on April 17 he wants to talk with fisher groups in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to see if they would be interested in asking the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for an earlier opening date.
Reaction to the proposal, however, was mixed among PEI fall fishers attending the PCFA information meeting in O’leary.
Knox said some buyers have suggested the quality of lobsters is best during the first two weeks of the season. Some fishers felt that makes for a good argument for an earlier opening while others suggested the hard-shelled lobsters trap first, so the quality is bound to be highest in the beginning regardless of the opening date.
Fishers discussed advancing the date a full week or just back to Aug. 6. Starting the season on a Monday would allow for the season to end on a Saturday (Oct. 6), which some agreed made good sense.
“It may work or it may not,” Knox said, suggesting there would not be any harm caused to the fishery by trying an earlier start.
“We could call it a pilot project,” he said. “It’s not written in stone.”
“We don’t know. If you try it a week earlier and you still only have the two weeks of top quality lobster and you drop down, then your question is answered and next year you go back to where you were,” Knox stated.
“You didn’t do the industry any damage and you’ve answered yourself a question that’s been on the go for years.”
Fishers expressed a willingness to vote on a proposal to change the opening date as early as the following week but, according to the association’s bylaws, one month’s notice has to be given before a vote on a motion can be held.
Meanwhile Knox intended to check to see if there is interest on the other side of the strait.